5 Classroom Ideas For the Election Season

22 October 2016 / Leave a Comment
Your students can enjoy 5 different classroom ideas during the election season or even for Presidents Day.

With the upcoming presidential election, I'm sure many of you have already been teaching your students about the election process. I have a few ideas for your classroom that you may not have tried.


Independent Activities for Centers Rotations

18 October 2016 / Leave a Comment

For me, centers serve two purposes.  First, I use them to practice skills we are learning in our class.  Second, they allow me the time I need to work with small groups.  In order for me to make the most of my time with my small groups, I need to limit the interruptions from students with questions.  Here are some ideas that I use for activities with instant feedback that can be used for centers or early finisher activities.

Developing a Growth Mindset One Student at a Time

14 October 2016 / 2 comments
Do you teach your students about growth mindset? Are you aware of the benefits of using positive affirmations? Combine these two powerful approaches and transform student achievement! 

Think back to your elementary years, your middle school years, and then your high school years. What was the little voice in your head saying to you about your abilities, your strengths, and your value as a human being? What were other kids or teachers saying to you about your abilities and your challenges? Likely, it was during these formative years that your beliefs about your own potential and capabilities developed. Sadly, research shows us that children feel less and less capable of achieving success as they get older. In fact, by the time students reach third grade, nearly half of them don't believe that their brain and intelligence can grow and change. They believe that their intelligence is fixed regardless of their effort to change it.

FUN Fall Math Activities

12 October 2016 / Leave a Comment
Do you find yourself searching for fun activities for math in the fall?I know I am always looking for new ways to engage my students and to allow them to practice their math skills while doing guided math or during our guided practice in lessons.

Here are three of my go to resources for teaching multiplication this fall.


I have gone back to an old favorite this fall, Go Fish! My students LOVE this game. To play Go Fish, students take a deck of Go Fish cards, they shuffle and pass out cards until each person has 7 cards. The rest of the cards go in a pile. Each student takes a turn asking someone else in the group if they have the card that matches theirs. For instance, if the student asking has the card 6x4= then they would ask someone else they are playing with "Do you have 24?" If the person has it they get the pair. If they do not, then they say "Go Fish" and the person who asked has to draw a card. The person who runs out of cards first wins.

You can find a free version of this game by clicking the image below.



My second go to game this season has been Clip-Its. I use these in centers as fun way to practice skills in word problem format. Students answer the question and a friend checks their work and confirms their answers are correct.  I have used these for both multiplication and place value.  They are a great, easy to use center. I've also used them as review by taping them to the wall and using them as Task cards instead of just clip cards. They are very versatile and great to use.



Another favorite game in my classroom that is super simple is Multiplication War. I hesitated to mention it because it is a fairly common game, but then I ran across a teacher I work with who had never used it. To play multiplication war students simply pass cards out as they would in war and instead of the person with the larger number getting the cards, the person who can multiply the two numbers and answer it first gets to keep the two cards. My kids love to play this and it is a great no-prep game for multiplication.


Last, but not least, as we are learning our multiplication strategies, I love to teach it with a lapbook. To do this I use the lapbook below and I use the notes sections of the lapbook for mini lesson concepts. We then use the side parts for practice in class. My student love using this to learn the different strategies for multiplication.

Here is a link for you to check it out...

Another great aspect of the lapbook is the exit slips that my students glue on the back. We answer one question a day and glue it to the back. This allows me to quickly check their understanding and to sort the folders into who gets it and who needs help. I then pull the students that need help during guided math the next day. I love that they are attached to the back of the folder and easy to keep up with.


I use a rubric to grade the pack and send home an extension activity for parents to do at home as well. I love that this is a great artifact of our learning for parents to see at home.


I hope you will find these activities useful this fall as you teach multiplication! Thanks for stopping by, I'm Tonja Irvine from Smart Puppy Learning and you can find more great math ideas at my blog.


Student Engagement 101: 3 Tips to Keep Your Students Engaged

10 October 2016 / Leave a Comment

You have made it past the first quarter...Your students have fallen into a routine, expectations have been established, and the students are working hard on a daily basis.   The first report card may have just gone home or is ready to be shared at fall conferences.  Students are setting goals for that next quarter.  School life for both students and teachers is in full swing and going well. Then BAM...our daily routines seem ordinary and less engaging.

Is Time on Your Side? Solutions for Making the Most of the Time You Have.

06 October 2016 / Leave a Comment
In this post, you'll get tips on how to save time. After all, time is always something we seem short of. Check out these time saving tips to see if any of them will help you out.

If you are struggling to fit it all in, then guess what? You are not alone. I can confidently say that every teacher I know has faced the crunch of time. Time is just not on our side. We run short to get all of the content in, time to remediate skills our students haven't mastered, time to complete grading, and time to complete all of our plans and preps. Therefore, the best we can do is make every minute count.

3 Simple No-Prep Activities Kids Can Do with Book Orders

04 October 2016 / Leave a Comment
Book orders are a great way to get students interested in reading, but what can you do with the extras? These simple no-prep activities are perfect for helping students with comprehension skills.

As a reading specialist, I get every book order catalog imaginable ~ all the way from PreK through 5th grade and all of the special ones. I end up with stacks and stacks. I rarely send them home with my students, but I do use them to help with various skills in the classroom. But I do use them with several different activities students can easily do to show learning.

7 Activities to Make Math Fun

02 October 2016 / Leave a Comment
7 highly engaging activities to make math more fun for upper elementary students

Math. Some of us love teaching it. Some of us hate it. The same is true for our students. But no matter how we feel about it, we have to teach math. And we all know that it's easier and more enjoyable for everyone if we can get our students excited about what they're learning. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make math fun for even your toughest students. Today, I'm sharing some of my students' favorite math activities.

5 Chrome Extensions that Support Digital Comprehension

29 September 2016 / Leave a Comment
Many studies suggest that reading comprehension may suffer when students read on digital devices that are dramatically making their way into the classroom. Yet, teachers are still expected to integrate technology into their lessons. Teaching comprehension with the good ol' paper book is a challenge in itself. Therefore, how are we supposed to support such a vital reading component when technology is involved?
5 Chrome Extensions That Support Digital Comprehension


Using Humor to Build Classroom Community

27 September 2016 / Leave a Comment
Have you tried using humor to build community in your classroom? Belly laughs are good for the body, mind, and soul!

Are you looking for an easy, no-prep way to build your classroom community through shared experiences? Look no further than your corniest jokes, popular memes, and hilarious YouTube videos!
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